When I enrolled in the Introduction to Media and Communications course I didn’t know what to expect. I am in my third year of University here at Wollongong, so Uni wasn’t new to me, but Communications was. I have always been an arts student, confident in writing history and English essays, but the media and using technology in a way other than Microsoft Word and Facebook was completely new territory.

I always had an interest in the media though and this course, even though I didn’t really know what the course was about. I now understand that Media and communications looks at how the media affects us and the  capacity of the media to control our behaviour, our  ideas and how we communicate with others. The course also includes studying different media forms (and how to use them, an example being this blog) and who owns the media, who decides what media we have access to and looks at media related issues that are discussed in the public sphere.

What I found most interesting (and most shocking) was how much control the media has and how the media really does affect our ideas about things, our behaviour and how we communicate with others.  I also never realised that the media is only owned by a considerably small  number of people and that they control the information available to us and how we use the media. The realisation that a media that I use all the time (such as Facebook) is controlling my ideas on things (by presenting me news stories that may not be true), and is controlling how I communicate with others (by creating functions such as  the ‘Seen’ function,  that influences my behaviour in needing to reply as soon as the sender knows I have seen it) is an incredibly scary thought.

 

Another part of the course that I found enlightening was how advertisements are put together and that advertisements have more meaning and more influence on us then we may realise.  What may look like an innocent and simple advertisement at first glance may look and mean something completely different when you look at the denotations and connotations of the image. The creators of the advertisement are trying to get us to think about the product and realise that we want it and that we should buy it. They are controlling our ideas and potentially our behaviour.

Before I began this course, I knew the media affected us and the way we behave, but I was not aware of the extent to which it does.  Media and Communications course has opened my eyes to how much the media controls what we know, how we behave, the information available to us and how we use the media. I now understand that the media is an incredibly complicated, powerful, beneficial but by the same token dangerous device! Let’s just hope we collectively use the power of the media for the good of society!

Until next time!

-Beth

 

I need to ask the question-

What kind of word do we live in if the exploitation of a little girl is considered ‘entertainment’? I have been lucky enough to not come across this program until recently. And I couldn’t be more thankful of this. In the world on Honey Boo Boo, she competes in beauty pageants and is groomed by her overbearing and controlling mother to be the perfect beauty queen.  The girl is six years old. What happened to the days of having your first bike at this age, rather than your own reality show?

The program has been debated in the public sphere since its beginning in 2012. Among many controversial issues raised, the parenting of this little girl is one issue that is constantly debated. Many have argued that Honey Boo Boo’s parents and her mother ‘Momma June’ in particular are unfit parents and are exploiting their daughter in order to make a quick buck.

The main issues that bring up this accusation are that people feel that the parents are sexualising their daughter and making her behave in a particular way in order for her show to be popular.  Honey Boo Boo’s ‘Go Go juice’ has also been an incredibly controversial issue discussed in the public sphere.

What is ‘Go Go juice’ you may ask?

Her mother would give Honey Boo Boo her “special juice” a mix of a caffine drink, Mountain Dew and Energy drinks to give her as much energy as possible in order for her to act in an extravagant way and to do well in the pageants. In the public sphere this “Go Go Juice” has been discussed and argued about rigorously.  Many people think that ‘Momma June’ is ‘doping up’ her daughter in order to make her daughter super energetic and getting her to behave in an over the top manner.

The mother has also been accused of sexualising her daughter. In response to these suggestions the mother says that it is not her fault and there is nothing wrong with how she dresses her daughter or the way she encourages her daughter to behave, if people see her daughter that way, It’s simply their fault for thinking about a child that way.

 

The overall issue that is discussed in the public sphere is that many people feel that ‘Momma June’ in exploiting her daughter in order to make money. It has been argued that her mother ‘eggs her on’ and encourages her to behave in a particular way and be outrageous and say ‘funny’ things and play with her stomach in order to please the producers of the show and the audiences at home and to make money. In one instance the mother Prompts her daughter to “tell her new saying” during  a Television interview in order to ‘please’ the audience.

This idea of the mother exploiting her child in order to gain fame and fortune is debated on a program called ‘The Young Turks’ on this program these issues were discussed. One presenter on the show even stated that “Her mum is a horrible, horrible mother”.

To be honest, I could not agree more. 

-Beth

Media is everywhere. Media is a dominative part of our lives. It is also incredibly powerful and can change our ideas and perspectives on things and can even shape who we are as people.  So we know that media is all around us and is incredibly influential but do we know who owns the media that we use and watch? I know that until recently, I didn’t have a clue who owned the Television corporation who aired my favourite TV show. Before the media created a movie on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg I had no idea that he was the founder of Facebook. A social networking site that I reluctantly will admit I use everyday! We as consumers of the media don’t usually question who owns the media that we use, as the media is now such an integral part of our society. But maybe we should?

There is increasingly fewer players in media ownership.  In Australia, our media is predominately owned by Gina Rinehart and Robert Murdoch among a few others. Due to their wealth they stay on top of the media ownership ladder as they simply have the funds and power to buy out smaller shareholders. Should we care who owns the media?

We should, as they control the information available to us and how we use the media. An example of this is Facebook. Facebook is an incredibly valuable and useful social media but on the other hand it is also very powerful and at times a scary device.

Facebook controls what we know, who we know and how we communicate with others.  It delivers us advertisements on the basis of what we ‘like’. I once liked a ‘check in’ of my friends when she was in Ireland. This seems like not a big deal, right? Well for the next month or so the advertisements presented on my Facebook where all about Ireland and the natural wonders that were awaiting me! It is scary how a device can pick up what you have ‘liked’ and present you with products or information on what you have liked.

Facebook also controls how we communicate with others. Gone are the good old days of receiving a Facebook inbox message and waiting a few days or even a week to think of a reply to the message.  Facebook now has a ‘Seen’ function, and once you have opened the message the sender is notified. I can no longer tell someone who I haven’t yet replied to “ohh really, you sent me a message? I haven’t seen that yet sorry! My Facebook has been mucking up lately”…This freedom that I loved has been taken away from me! I am a terrible replier generally, I will admit that, I just like to have the time to read the message through and think of a good reply. These are all slightly frightening aspects of a social media that most of us use on a daily basis.

The most frightening of all I find is the check in device that then provides a map to get to where the person has checked in. This is fine when in a public place but the function now provides directions to get to peoples homes.?  Does Facebook have too much of a hold on our behaviour and how we communicate?  We may ask how far is too far? Well I think giving directions to a private residence may be it!

-Beth

Every day we are bombarded with advertisements. Everywhere we look whether it be on billboards or the sides of buses we see advertisements. Even in our own homes advertisements are everywhere, when we read a magazine or the paper, when we watch television and when we are online. Advertisements are a huge part of our world and they have a bigger impact on us and what we buy then we might think. What may look at first glance like a simple and innocent advertisement, on a more thorough look and if you consider the connotations of an ad, you may feel differently about the advertisement and the product its promoting.

When we first look at an advertisement, we don’t usually give it too much thought, as we see them on a daily basis, but if we look deeper, the denotations and connotations of the image are trying to get us to think about the product and realise that we want it and that we should buy it.

Sometimes advertisements go wrong however and sometimes people are offended with the connotations of an advertisement. One such advertisement was for an Italian ice cream company  Antonio Federici.

 

The denotation of this advertisement consists of a heavily pregnant nun dressed in her habit in what appears to be a darkly lit church. The Nun is holding with one hand a tub of ice cream that is resting on her stomach, to accentuate her baby bump. The Nun has her head tilted down, like she is praying and there is a light shining down on her.  The caption below the image reads “Immaculately Conceived”.

Ice cream immaculately conceived? I think not!

The connotations of this advertisement can make many people of a Christian background feel uncomfortable and offended. The connotations of this advertisement are that a Nun is pregnant and in her habit. The image of a Nun pregnant is controversial as Nun’s are not allowed to marry or practice in sexual acts. The text at the bottom of the advertisement makes the ad even more conroversial and offensive as it reads “Immaculately conceived” which is how the bible states Jesus came into being and was born from “The Virgin Mary”.

The advertisement ran in a magazine but was later removed  by the British advertising watchdog as readers complained as they found it offensive to Christians. The advertisement was also accused of mocking and making fun of the Catholic Church and its followers.

The ice cream company said that their intention was to state that the way they produced the ice cream was ‘immaculate’ and that they only meant to lightly poke fun at Christianity. Proving that what is considered by some as an innocent and light hearted ad, can have a whole other meaning to others when we look at the connotations of an advertisement.

An ‘Immaculate’ and affective advertisement?

No way!

-Beth

References-

Huff Post World US edition, ‘Antonio Federici Ice Cream Ad Featuring Pregnant Nun Banned’. www.huffingtonpost.com/…/antoniofedericiice-crea_n_718508.ht…

A question that has long been asked is does the media and what we watch, play or interact with have an impact on our actions? Does the media make us fat? Does it make us violent? Or just stupid?

The idea that the media and what we watch and interact with makes us fat or violent is a bit of a foolish belief. Although the we as consumers of media are influenced by it, the media can not be blamed for an individuals behaviour or lifestyle. Television, Films and computer games that could be regarded as violent don’t automatically result in the viewer being violent. I have watched a fair few horror movies in my time and growing up with brothers, I played my fair share of Grand theft Auto and COD, but I can’t kill a cockroach let alone injure an animal or another human being.

Although we are influenced by the media, the Media effects model does have some inaccuracies and David Gauntlett’s article ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’ highlights these. Gauntlett argues that there has been decades of research into the effects the media has on us and that these studies have been fairly inconclusive. Gauntlett states that due to this “we should conclude that they are simply not there to be found”.

The media has an impact on our behaviour, but it does not ‘make’ people fat or violent. The media can not be blamed for an individuals behaviour. Gauntlett looks at how the ‘effects model tackles social problems ‘backwards’.  This means that if an individual is particularly violent and causes harm to others, this may be due to factors such as their family background and situation, their personality and their past experiences rather than the media they watch and interact with.

Gauntlett has ten points that he explores in his article on what is wrong with the media effects model. He looks at how the effects model is based on studies that are ‘artificial’ and that the effects model does not try to understand the meanings of the media, among other issues. The effects the media has on an individual is not represented correctly in the effects model.

So, the media has an impact on our behaviour, but what doesn’t? and although the media can impact on the way we behave, ultimately the media cannot be blamed for the way we behave.  Me watching horror movies and playing Grand theft Auto did not give me any desire to steal a car or to shoot someone. The media influences our behaviour but it can not be blamed for the way we choose to behave.

-Beth

References-

Gauntlett, David ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’, http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm

Hi Guys! My Name is Beth, just Beth, not Elizabeth, not Bethany, just Beth =). You would be surprised how often I get Elizabeth or Bethany!  I am from a small town on the south coast called Gerroa originally but I moved up to Wollongong for University. I am in my third year of an Arts Degree at Wollongong University, majoring in History and Sociology and Minoring in English Literatures. I am also doing a media and communications subject for the first time and I am loving it! The subject is so different from anything I have ever done before and although I find the technological side a little challenging, (I am a technologically challenged twenty year old, and technology is simply repelled by me. I have destroyed a number of mobile phones and a laptop, all instances involved water in some way).

Although I’m not the best with technology, the media is always something I have been interested in, and I am interested in pursuing a career in the media and journalism field. I also want to, at some point in my life, be a high school teacher for history, as history is a major passion of mine. Books,  the outdoors and movies are my other passions (I spend wayyyy too much of my time watching films, but they are my favourite past time!). In the next five years I will have finished my degree and hope to be in a job I love, whatever field it may be in.

I am interested in current affairs and often have my nose in a newspaper. This is a habit my dad got me into, that and tea drinking! I go through that much tea it is ridiculous! And I go through even more come exam time!

This blog is for university and will follow my musings about the media!

-Beth

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